Monday, October 27, 2014

30th Anniversary: The The - Soul Mining

My first introduction to The The, a.k.a. Matt Johnson, came from the pages of Rolling Stone magazine and their yearly feature Ten Bands You Must Hear, which also included stories on then unknowns Prefab Sprout and General Public. What struck me about the article on The The was that Johnson was the sole member of the band and had pretty much recorded every note on the album Soul Mining. Being from the relatively small town of Savannah in the 1980s didn't provide much in the way of easy access to alternative music, but one day in my local Record Bar was one shiny cassette tape of Soul Mining, begging me to take it home. Since that day, I have worn out approximately three cassette copies of the record, until I finally preserved it on CD and now digital media. This album is such a seminal part of my musical growth in the 80s that it amazes me sometimes that I forget to mention it in my top albums of all time. I tend to overlook it, not because it somehow is inferior, but because it is such a monolithic work that it towers so far above as to be god-like. What strikes me most about this album now is that it still sounds well ahead of its time with very little aging. Usually in these features I highlight one song that I like the most off a record, however, in this case, I like every song equally. If you have yet to hear this record, prepare to be blown away by its inventive sonic attack, brazen and witty lyrics, and the sheer melodic force of these tracks. For those that adore this record already, be prepared to be welcomed back into its warm cocoon. In honor of its 30th anniversary, Sony Music is reissuing the album. The re-packed and expanded version contains an authentic reproduction of the album, with newly remastered audio from the original master tapes (overseen at Abbey Road by Matt Johnson), as well as an extra 12” gatefold vinyl of alternative versions and remixes.

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